2007 Turtle Monitoring Project




Mature Western Pond Turtle. The blunt, squarish nose and yellow colorization with numerous dark flecks below the carapace suggest this is a female.

Source: www.fws.gov




Juvenile Western Pond Turtle. Juveniles face more predation from bullfrogs and other species because of their small size.

Source: www.wdfw.wa.gov


Western Pond Turtle Biology

The Western Pond Turtle is found within Northern California, Canada, Western Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Throughout this range their colors and markings vary geographically and sexually. The carapace ranges from light or dark brown to olive in adults, and in hatchlings a grey-greenish color. As the turtles age, hatchlings darken in color and adults' markings fade. The females have a rounded shell, a long thin tail, a flecked throat, and a short vertical nose. The males have a relatively flat shell, a shorter thicker tail, a cream colored throat, and a long horizontal nose.

Western Pond Turtles live in aquatic habitats such as: ponds, lakes, slow-moving streams, marshes, irrigation ditches and ephemeral pools with stuctures for basking. Plenty of sun is necessary for thermoregulation, accompanied by vegetation for shelter and protection. Terrestrial habitat is used for both overwintering and nesting. Overwintering is the process where the turtle will bury itself in leaf litter or soil during the winter and hibernate to stay out of the cold. In Oregon they may overwinter for up to 8 months, anywhere from September to June.

Western Pond Turtles in Oregon reach sexual maturity at around 10-12 years of age. In the spring, the turtles mate and lay their eggs in nesting sites on upland habitat. These nesting sites are generally found within 1/4 mile from their aquatic habitat and consists of shortgrass meadows with a south-facing aspect. The south-facing aspect and absence of canopy cover ensure that the nesting site will receive optimal sun exposure over the winter incubation period. The eggs will hatch in the fall and the hatchlings will overwinter in the nest before emerging in the spring.

Western Pond Turtles are omnivores, feeding on various species such as insects, insect larvae, small fish, frogs, and plants. Natural predators to the species include, but are not limited to: bullfrogs, bass, birds, raccoons, foxes, dogs, bears, and otters. Most predation of the species occur at nest sites, where the list extends to include snakes and small rodents.